Love

Casual Sex Is No Longer A Dirty Little Secret, But Are Singaporeans Ok With That?

casual sex open secret

There is a high chance that there is someone within your social circles with some sort of kinky sex secret hidden behind the face of innocence. 

Surprise, Singaporeans are hooking up.

If you are a Singaporean millennial, you probably would have been living under a rock if you are unaware of how common it is for our generation to sleep around by now.

We all know that the hooking up culture exists in Singapore. 

We know of friends, or friends of friends who have had One-Night Stands (ONS), Friends With Benefits (FWBs), and even orgies. Nonetheless, seeing the way we react with the initial disbelief that quickly transforms into excitement, one would think that we had just won the lottery whenever someone spills tea on someone hooking up with someone. 

However, despite this awareness, casual sex and promiscuity remain an open secret only discussed in closed circles and in hushed whispers. 

It’s an irony, because while our society has grown to be a lot more open to traditionally promiscuous behaviours, there is still a lot of shame attached to these behaviours. 

As a Redditor best puts it, our society is one where we can do it “not openly la, [but] secret-secret ok.”

We’re The Amalgamation Of Conservative Singapore & Western Liberals

When it comes to promiscuity, we are a perplexing generation to understand. 

Perhaps it’s because of the way we were brought up. Our parents and grandparents are people who would wear the chastity belt with pride, but chastity and abstinence are not values that we celebrate. In fact, it’s the contrary: we see it as prudish. 

I believe a big part of this has to do with the way we are exposed to content from the West, the influences from Hollywood and American television since our primary school years. I find it hard to imagine us having the same perspectives as we have today should we have grown up with heavy influence from the East (like China) instead. 

Overseas exchange trips that some of us have had the opportunity to go for also allowed us to experience the different cultures across the globe. 

All of these collectively contributed to our general acceptance of liberal views in Singapore. 

As such, we are the generation that grew up trying to make sense of the conservative boundaries surrounding sex that our elders drew for us. Out of curiosity and the desire to ‘rebel’ a little, we dip our toes into these boundaries. As a result, we become increasingly liberal with sex while we still grapple with innately conservative values embedded in us from a young age. 

On a thread discussing promiscuity in Singapore, another Redditor commented: “We’re definitely fine with sex, but we’ve been brought up in quite a conservative environment where open discussion about sex is frowned upon, so everyone seems like they’re very pure.”

The Need To Keep Up ‘An Image’ To Prevent Being Shamed

Also ironically, despite our knowledge of a hookup culture in Singapore, we seem to still have a sex shaming culture as well. 

A large part of our society remains highly conservative, and I dare say that most millennials would feel uncomfortable with being 100% truthful to their parents about their views on sex and promiscuity. The reason: We either fear incurring their wrath in suggesting something so blasphemous, or we know there’s no point in even trying. 

In our society, there’s still a significant amount of shame that’s tied to traditionally promiscuous behaviours, which is pretty much engaging in any kind of sexual activities with anyone else besides our partner. 

I spoke to two millennials who opened up about having had multiple sex partners. Despite their belief that it’s okay to have casual sex, both shared the same sentiments that this ‘lifestyle’ is not something that they will flaunt because they are not confident that society, as a whole, will be able to accept their behaviours.

It isn’t so much of a fear of not being accepted by people, but it is the subtle ‘shade’ and shame that comes with being openly promiscuous that they would rather avoid. 

26-year-old Lynn*, said: “There are always moments where I judge myself. I think part of it is because we have always been taught that sex is all about love and should only be done in a committed relationship. Another thing is that people will definitely judge you as well, especially if they themselves strongly believe that sex is an act of love.”

27-year-old, Tony*, who revealed that he has had sex with around 36 women, added that it’s important to learn how to separate making love and having sex. “Sometimes I feel [bad] because it’s like a transaction, as if [sex] is the only thing we can offer. But on the other hand, it’s also a human need.” 

Despite all the shame and stigma however, there have been noticeable changes in our society. 

For instance, Swinging Communities are more prevalent these days, and Swingers are completely open about satiating their sexual desires through ‘unusual’ arrangements like swapping spouses and even sex parties (orgies)—yes, these happen in Singapore. These communities are a lot more accessible today, and you can easily surf forum threads that detail these experiences and join communities like Undertable—Singapore & ASIA Swingers Community.

Screen capture taken from Undertable

We’re becoming more receptive of the concept of promiscuity, and some would argue that this is eroding our traditional Asian values. But if we were to look at this objectively, it really isn’t necessarily bad. 

It isn’t as if promiscuous behaviours are a new fad. And sure, there’s a growing acceptance in the pursuit of promiscuous lifestyles today. However, it’s also a fact that people are more willing to open up today, which is great because being able to talk about it helps us understand more about sex. 

This is also a positive progression because on the other end of the spectrum, there are many who struggle with the guilt of doing something wrong whenever we pander to our sexual desires. I know this because I’ve struggled with it myself. 

This fear, guilt, and shame is also what deters us from talking about our struggles, or about sex even, which is really important in helping us understand more about something that is at the end of the day, really just human nature. 

It helps to take away a lot of guilt and shame that we really don’t need. And let’s be honest: having casual sex is inherently hedonistic, and we know it. 

Importantly, We Need To Know The Difference Between Acceptance Vs. Glorifying

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating for Singapore to be more (or less) promiscuous. Instead, what I’m proposing is for us to think about how much we are talking about sex and how we are talking about it.

Ultimately, I think we need to establish the difference between accepting and glorifying sex and promiscuity. It’s one thing to be more open-minded and to encourage a more liberal society, and another to promote or encourage mindless promiscuity. Let me assure you that I am not gunning for the latter. Neither am I promoting the idea of polygamy or cheating, or for every conversation to be about sex.

What I’m saying is that it’ll do us good to have more acceptance.  

Something I’ve learnt from reading up about the Undertable Community is the need to have mutual respect and non-judgment.

With all that said, there are still behaviours that I don’t agree with. But that doesn’t mean that I expect other people to believe in my belief. I’d agree to disagree, because just like how I wouldn’t want others to judge my (sex) life, I believe there’s no win in judging others just  for their sex drive. 

Despite being inherently conservative, I’d say ‘it’s your life.’ Do whatever you want as long as you keep yourself safe, and you don’t affect anyone who isn’t willing. 

So What’s Good For Our Society?

These days, there’s no more clear definitions of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ as lines are blurred. More often than not, we know that behind cases of infidelity is also very likely a complicated history between two adults. 

As the generation that grew up with a mix of Eastern and Western values, we are one that are increasingly receptive of liberal perspectives while we continue to police ourselves with morals of fidelity and monogamy. 

Some may think that we are becoming desensitised or that we are normalising promiscuous behaviour and to a certain extent, we are. However, I don’t think that this is necessarily a bad thing. It’s just growth. And being part of a society in a first-world nation, I think growth is good. 

Going forward, it’s probably also one of the things that is going to change a good deal in several generations’ time. 

* Names have been changed to protect the identity of the individuals.

Also read: Is There A Need For Better Sex Education That’s More Than STDs And Abstinence?.

(Header Image Credit: Marvin Meyer on Unsplash)

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